Why Is My Fishing Reel Spinning Both Ways

Why Is My Fishing Reel Spinning Both Ways? Answered

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One fairly common problem which some people run into, is that the fishing reel spins in both ways. Yes, technically speaking, fishing reels are supposed to spin both ways, but not all of the time.

So if you are wondering ‘why is my fishing reel spinning both ways?’ the problem could lay with the bail of your spinning reel, the drag system, or it could also lay with the anti-reverse.

3 Reasons Why Your Reel Is Spinning Both Ways

Generally speaking, the biggest problem here, the one which causes the double-sided spinning in most circumstances, is the anti-reverse.

Let’s take a look at the various issues which could be causing your reel to turn in both ways, as well as the various solutions to these problems;

1. The Bail

Ok, so, if you have a spinning reel, it is in fact designed to spin both ways, but of course, not at once. Now, this all has to do with the bail, that U-shaped solid wire that you can move from one position to the other. When the bail is in the open position, it will allow you to cast your line, and therefore the spool and handle will spin in reverse to let line off the spool.

On the other hand, when you have the bail in the closed position, it should stop the spool and handle from spinning in reverse. You have to have the bail in the closed position in order to reel the line in. So, first and foremost, make sure that you have the bail on the spinning reel in the proper position, either for casting or retrieval.

If you have the bail placed properly, whether for retrieving the fishing line or for casting it, and it is still spinning in both directions, there is a problem with the bail and the interior mechanism. If this is the case, you need to take the bail off, unscrew it, and take a look at the inside.

You need to ensure that all of the components are in one piece and in good condition. Broken components in the bail system could be the issue. You will need to replace broken components. We have actually done a separate article on this exact topic, and we would definitely recommend that you take a look at it.

2. Something Wrong With The Anti-Reverse

The most common problem which you are most likely facing if your fishing reel spins in both directions is an issue with the anti-reverse. The anti-reverse on a fishing reel stops it from spinning in the wrong direction. There is usually a switch that can be switched to control this.

When you switch the anti-reverse on, it will stop the handle and spool from spinning backwards, thus stopping the line from coming off the spool. When the anti-reverse is not engaged, the spool and handle can spin in both directions depending on what is happening.

In case your fishing reel is spinning in both directions, the first thing that you want to do here is to make sure that you have the anti-reverse switch engaged. This should stop the fishing reel from spinning in both directions.

However, if this does not work, there might be a problem with the anti-reverse switch, or with the anti-reverse system as a whole. If this is the case, you will need to take the fishing reel apart, specifically the anti-reverse, and see if there are any damaged components. The problem could be due to misaligned components, or components could be broken.

Let’s go through a quick step by step process to diagnose and fix this issue.

  • First off, just check to see that the anti-reverse switch is not stuck in the off position.
  • If the anti-reverse switch is stuck in the off position, or if it still does not engage when in the on position, you will need to take it apart to see what is going on inside.
  • Take off the housing cap by unscrewing it. Now, remove the spool washers and remove the rotor nut as well. Take off the rotor assembly and find the clutch bearing. Now you need to unscrew the screws around the rim by the bearing cap.
  • Now that all of the screws have been removed, take out the whole clutch assembly, but be extra careful to not move the pinion, as this is a very important piece.
  • Now you need to check to see if the roller clutch sleeve is nested well inside of the large diameter bushing. If it is not sitting right, just try to readjust it so it sits in the bushing properly. In other words, you need to realign the clutch bearing into the anti-reverse clutch. By all means, this should do the trick.
  • However, if the clutch or any other part of the assembly is visibly broken, it will need replacement, something which you may be able to do on your own, but is usually best left to professional hands.

3. Your Drag Is Broken Or Not Set Right

Another reason why your fishing reel might be spinning in both directions is due to the drag. Of course, the drag on a fishing reel controls how much pressure a fish can put on the line in the reverse direction without pulling the line out.

The drag system will keep the spool and handle from spinning in the wrong direction up to a certain pressure point. Once the fish applies more pressure than the drag can handle, it will release the spool and handle to let line out, the biggest benefit being that your fishing line won’t snap.

Now, if you have the drag set way too low, fish will be able to pull the line out far too easily, thus causing the handle and spool to spin in the wrong direction. The simply solution here is to increase the drag setting and to calibrate it appropriately for the size of fish you are going for. If this does not work, the drag system on your fishing reel could be broken.

If this is the case, you will need to remove the various components of the drag system, clean them, and if broken, the pieces will need replacement. It’s not the simplest task around, so you might have to employ the help of a professional to do this.

More on using drag correctly over at this article.


The bottom line is that if your fishing reel is spinning in both directions, the problem is most likely the anti-reverse system, but this is not always the case. You will most likely have to go through a bit of a trial and error procedure to see what is broken, and then replace the various broken parts as necessary.